Study: Consumers call for strong government intervention in energy market

New York City, March 9, 2010 – Three out of four consumers are concerned by energy and climate change issues, but nearly two thirds say that using less energy is not the answer to reducing reliance on fossil fuels or foreign energy supply.

According to a survey of 9,000 people in 22 countries conducted by Accenture, almost nine out of ten consumers want more government intervention in the energy market.

The Accenture New Energy World Survey reveals that:

* 90 percent of consumers are concerned or extremely concerned by rising energy costs and 76 percent by the prospect of energy shortages.

* 83 percent are concerned by climate change and 80 percent by the level of local air pollution.

* 77 percent are concerned or very concerned about their country’s reliance on other countries providing oil and gas.

* 89 percent think it important or very important to reduce their country’s reliance on fossil fuels.

However, only a third of respondents say cutting energy should be the top priority in addressing energy issues:

* 37 percent say using less energy is the answer to limit their country’s reliance on fossil fuels, and 36 percent say that using less energy is the answer to reducing reliance on foreign countries providing oil and gas.

* Two thirds (63 percent and 64 percent, respectively) believe the solution to these challenges lies in developing low carbon sources of energy.

Consumers do not trust energy companies

* Only 22 percent of consumers surveyed unreservedly trust energy companies to take actions to address energy challenges.

* Almost a third (32 percent) do not trust them to do so and 46 percent trust them only if they have direction from governments.

* The highest levels of distrust are in the deregulated or partly deregulated markets of the U.K. (53 percent), U.S. (51 percent) and Australia (46 percent).

* The lowest levels of distrust are found in the regulated energy markets of Japan (3 percent), India (8 percent), China (12 percent).

Consumers demand more government intervention

When asked who should lead on taking actions to address energy challenges, only 21 percent of the survey respondents said energy companies should. Almost half (45 percent) think governments and political leaders should take the lead, and 24 percent say consumers themselves should lead.

Almost all consumers (85 percent) think that more government control and intervention is required to address energy challenges. Asked to choose the most important government actions required:

* 54 percent pointed to controlling energy prices
 
* 51 percent to providing incentives for new technologies

* 41 percent to making investment decisions regarding the development of sources of low-carbon energy.

Dislike of foreign energy companies

The Accenture survey also found that consumers prefer energy to be provided from domestically owned companies. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) are not comfortable with energy companies being owned by foreign owned companies. 

Sentiment against foreign ownership is strongest in the Netherlands (88 percent), followed by the United States and Italy (81 percent). Consumers in Spain (60 percent), the Middle East (53 percent) and India (33 percent) are least worried by foreign ownership.

Accenture’s study, The New Energy World, A Consumer Perspective, is based on an online survey conducted in native languages with 9,005 consumers in 22 countries worldwide, during November 2009.

 

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